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The S&P 500's Biggest Gainers And Losers In A Turbulent First Quarter

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The S&P 500's Biggest Gainers And Losers In A Turbulent First Quarter
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After a strong start to 2018, the U.S. market came under pressure in late January and sold off into mid-February as inflation fears spooked investors. A vibrant economy triggered fears of faster-than-anticipated rate hikes, sending traders to the sidelines.

Although the markets subsequently fought back — thanks to a strong corporate reporting season and positive economic data points — renewed selling pressure emerged in mid-March. The most recent weakness was drawn by fears of a looming trade war with China following the imposition of tariffs on aluminum and steel imports by President Donald Trump's administration.

For the quarter, the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average are down 1.22 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 2.3 percent.

^SPX Chart

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Source: Y Charts

The averages ended 2017 up 25.08 percent, 19.42 percent and 28.24 percent, respectively. Amid the first quarter's roller coaster ride, here's a look at five S&P 500 stocks that posted standout gains and five others that have underperformed.

The Winners

Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR) is up a whopping 77 percent this year. It's a relative newcomer to the index, having replaced Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) in March.

Netflix: The Evergreen Stock Market Darling

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) is up 52.20 percent. The streaming service's  shares are showing a broader uptrend for much of the quarter, save for the late-quarter pullback along with the broader market.

XL Group Riding On M&A Deal

XL Group Ltd (NYSE: XL) is up 57.07 percent in Q1. Much of the insurer's quarterly gains were made on the back of a $15.3-billion buyout deal from French insurer AXA. The proposed union would create a world leader in property and casualty insurance, according to AXA. The deal was announced March 5, with XL Group reacting with a 29-percent move to the upside for the day.

Seagate Driven By Fundamentals

Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX) is up 35 percent. The storage device maker is a beneficiary of strong fundamentals, as its shares rode on the back of solid second-quarter report in early February. Like Netflix, Seagate's shares have also been broadly higher in the quarter except for short-lived reactions to the overall market pullback.

CSRA Caught In M&A Crossfire

CSRA Inc (NYSE: CSRA) is up 36.16 percent. The IT was an object of interest for defense contractors General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE: GD) and CACI INTERNATIONAL INC Common Stock (NYSE: CACI). When General Dynamics initially announced an agreement to buy CSRA Feb. 12, the latter's stock jumped 31 percent and has been moving roughly sideways since then. With CACI having withdrawn its offer, the decks are now cleared for a General Dynamics-CSRA union.

See Also: The Sectors Likely To Deliver Double-Digit Earnings Growth In Q1

The Losers

Weak Results, Guidance Dent Patterson

Patterson Companies, Inc. (NASDAQ: PDCO) is down 38.49 percent. The medical supplies company has had a rough 2018 so far, with a FTC complaint alleging that it colluded with some peers in not providing discounts to a customer segment.

On March 1, Patterson reported below-consensus third-quarter earnings and lowered its full-year guidance below the consensus estimate.

Limited Brands: A Retail Victim 

L Brands Inc (NYSE: LB) is down 40.16) percent. Apart from sector-wide malaise, L Brands is facing apparent execution issues. The company's shares traced a broad downward slope during the quarter and shed 12 percent on Jan. 4 after the release of disappointing December sales numbers and lower Q4 earnings guidance.

Despite a fairly positive sales update in early February, the equity continued to languish. The full-year results released in late February did little to improve sentiment, given the disappointing guidance issued by the company.

Signet Loses Luster After Q4 Print 

Signet Jewelers Ltd. (NYSE: SIG) is down 33.79 percent. Signet shares, though on a broader downtrend in the quarter, suffered a major setback March 14 in reaction to the company's weak Q4 results and disappointing guidance. The company announced plans to close 200 underperforming stores in 2019.

Albemarle Reacts To Supply Concerns, Q4 Loss

Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB) is down 30.60 percent; the lithium producer saw intense sell-offs on Jan. 18 and Feb. 28.

In January, lithium producers came under selling pressure on supply concerns after Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (ADR) (NYSE: SQM) was given the go-ahead to boost production following the resolution of a dispute with Chile.

The pullback in February was in reaction to a loss the company reported for its Q4.

Related Link: Morgan Stanley Downgrades Albemarle On Supply, Pricing Concerns

General Mills' Pet (Food) Peeves

General Mills, Inc. (NYSE: GIS) is down 25.12 percent. Shares of the packaged foods product company were moving in tandem with the broader market until late February, when the company announced a deal to buy pet food maker Blue Buffalo Pet Products for an enterprise value of $8 billion. After shedding 3.5 percent on the day announcement (Feb. 23), the stock continued to trend downward, as investors fretted about the viability of the proposed purchase.

Shares fell 9 percent in reaction to its financial results released on March 21.

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